Saturday, April 18, 2009

Hyperlocal News Sites

Link to April 13 New York Times article, "News Without Newspapers".

Excerpt: If your local newspaper shuts down, what will take the place of its coverage? Perhaps a package of information about your neighborhood, or even your block, assembled by a computer.

A number of Web start-up companies are creating so-called hyperlocal news sites that let people zoom in on what is happening closest to them, often without involving traditional journalists.

The sites, like
EveryBlock,, Placeblogger, and Patch, collect links to articles and blogs and often supplement them with data from local governments and other sources.

What I discovered:
EveryBlock's coverage is currently limited to the following cities: Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, Washington DC. gives me local (Middleton) coverage. Just added it to my bloglines account.

At first glance, Placeblogger is just confusing. (No time now to figure it out.)

Patch currently covers 3 New Jersey communities: South Orange, Millburn, and Maplewood.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Going Against the Grain

Link to April 17 cnet news post, "Blu-ray sales nearly double from a year ago".

Sam Wood, the Answer Man

Western Technical College Library, La Crosse

Link to April 16 La Crosse Tribune article, "The answer man: Reference librarian’s work is all Q & A".

Excerpt: Wood became a reference librarian six years ago. Since he started working at Western’s library reference desk in February, he has fielded 218 questions and tracked them based on the subject and time they take.

“It’s a means to justify our existence,” he said.

Questions ranged from the diabetes rates of inner-city youth to the location of the restrooms. Some questions take Wood an hour, others 10 seconds.

But most questions are reference-related and those are his favorites.

"That's the nice thing about being a reference librarian, you get to learn all the time,” he said.

Dog Provides Reading Therapy

Link to April 17 Fond du Lac Reporter article, "Readers unleashed: Therapy dog helps promote literacy".

Excerpt: Choosing short stories, like “Russell the Sheep, “Biscuit Visits the Farm,” and “Roy the Cowboy,” 6-year-old Theo Rauch of Ripon snuggled up with the sheltie recently for an afternoon of reading at the Ripon Public Library.

“It was sort of funky,” the 6-year-old related. “Usually, you read to your parents or they read to you.”

The 3-year-old sheltie is a professionally trained therapy dog whose handler, Lori Kannenberg, has a passion for supporting young readers on their way to proficiency.

Children who may struggle with reading, or who simply lack the motivation, get excited when they sit down to read aloud, one-on-one with Kiani, said Ripon Librarian Linda DeCramer.

Report from the T. B. Scott Free Library

T. B. Scott Free Library, Merrill

Link to Assistant Director Don Litzer's April 17 column in the Wausau Daily Herald.

Excerpt: Greetings from T.B. Scott Free Library! As one of Merrill's oldest institutions, having been here since 1891, the library continues to serve our community by providing information, recreation through reading and programs, the means to lifelong learning and ready access to technology for all.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Consumer Guide to Online Invitation Services

Link to April 16 cnet news post, "10 Evite alternatives: The good and the bad".

Charging for Content? Good Luck With That!

Link to April 10 post, "Teens Love Aggregation and 'Free', Newspaper Study Finds".

Some findings of the study conducted by Northwestern University's Media Management Center.
  • Don't overload them. Less is more: Reduce the volume of information.
  • Create home pages that satisfy.
  • Include visuals with anything that matters.
  • Convey what's important with a clear, visual hierarchy.
  • Avoid pages that require too much scrolling or clicking.
  • Break up information into management chunks.

Survey Says

74% of Internet users went online during the 2008 election. (Or 55% of the entire adult population.)

Link to April 15 Pew Internet & Ameican Life Project report, "The Internet's Role in Campaign 2008".

Lots of interesting tables and graphs. Since 1996, for example, TV has remained THE major and a relatively steady source of election news.

Plans for new Cedar Rapids library move ahead

Link to April 15 Cedar Rapids Gazette.

Excerpt: The city's library board will begin seeking public input on where to build the community's new library, with the goal of having it open by 2011.

At the library board's request, the City Council tonight signaled it will formally ask the Federal Emergency Management Agency to support the idea, with FEMA disaster-relief funds paying most of the estimated $24 million cost.

Celebrating your local library

The Hedberg Public Library
is Stacy's local library

Link to Stacy Vogel's April 14 blogpost in the Janesville Gazette.

Excerpt: Any regular reader of this blog knows I spend quite a bit of time at Janesville's Hedberg Public Library. I like to go there when I need some quiet time to escape the world. My husband likes to go there to study. And of course, I love checking out books and movies.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Kindle 2 vs. Print

Lance Ulanoff discusses the plusses and minuses at, "Amazon Kindle 2: It's Not Like Print".

Excerpt: If you're thinking about casting aside your books and magazines for this digital wonder, here's a dose of reality from a true convert.

His comments are organized under the following headings:

  • Watch those buttons.
  • Too much like technology.
  • Where am I?
  • Navigate by intuition.
  • Like a book but not.
  • Restrictions apply.

His summary: Despite all this, I have come away with an abiding love for the Kindle 2.

Rural Broadband Takes Detour to Suburbs

Link to April 14 Mother Jones article, "Rural Broadband Stimulus Program Slammed in Government Report".

Excerpt: A key stimulus program to bring Internet service to rural America may not be up to the job of spending its $2.5 billion in extra funding effectively, according to a report (PDF) released Monday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s inspector general.

The Rural Utilities Service’s broadband program faced heavy criticism in 2005 when auditors found irregularities (PDF) with a quarter of the funds the program had received in its first four years of operation. In one case, the program loaned $45 million to wire affluent subdivisions in the Houston suburbs—including one that was built around a golf course and another outside one of the richest cities in Texas.

Ashland Daily News Supports USF for Statewide Library Funding

April 14 editorial, "Libraries a good place for fund".

A plan in Governor Jim Doyle's budget to use $12.6 million from the Universal Service Fund to pay for Internet upgrades in Wisconsin's public libraries is drawing fire, but it shouldn't.

The fund, which is supported by a fee on land-line telephones, was started in 1993 with the purpose of providing Internet and other cutting-edge technologies to rural areas where traditional providers may not find it profitable to set up shop.

In recent years, some of the $32 million fund has gone to public libraries to beef up their Internet offerings. Rural schools have also received money to help upgrade technologies.

For rural communities where access to the Internet may be limited and some families may not even have computers, libraries and schools critical access to online services such as Job Centers.

There isn't a much better place that the money could go to provide a much-needed public access to good technology than libraries and public schools. (RG's emphasis)

First Appleton. Now Ashland. Now far can we work out way through the alphabet? (Thanks to Jim Trojanowski, Northern Waters Library System Director, for bringing this editorial to my attention -- and for his tireless library advocacy efforts.)

Relocating the South Madison Branch Library

Link to April 14 Capital Times article, "South Madison library backers hope economy won't stifle fundraising".

Excerpt: There's little doubt that the busy library needs an upgrade from its current setting in a cramped, worn storefront in the Villager Mall. But the foundering economy means it will be a challenge to raise the $335,000 in private funding needed to make the new library a reality in a neighborhood where many residents struggle in the best of times.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

From the Better-Late-Than-Never Dept.

Standing out....for perhaps the last time

Link to April 14 Jamestown [NY] Post Journal article, "Mayville Library Makes Online Transition".

Excerpt: A member of the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Library System, the Mayville Library began weeding materials from its shelves in 2007 in preparation for the automation - a process which requires the cataloging of each book.

According to DeSantis, nearly 10,000 items were weeded out, with many finding new homes through book sale events. Books which the Mayville Library has, but other member libraries do not, were added into the system.

''In the process of automating,'' DeSantis said, ''we really started to go from a 1975 library to a 2008 and now 2009 library.''

New Feature: Wrapped Up in Books

Link to April 14 A.V. Club post, "Announcing a new A.V. Club book club".

Excerpt: In case you haven’t caught on, The A.V. Club is home to a fervently pro-reading, up-with-books crowd. To serve this crowd a little better, we plan to make some additions to the site over the next couple of months, expanding our book-review section and rolling out a couple of new features. First up, a new monthly book-club feature we’re calling Wrapped Up In Books.

How does it work? It’s remarkably simple. Each month, a member of our blue-ribbon panel of writers—Donna Bowman, Zack Handlen, Noel Murray, Leonard Pierce, Tasha Robinson, Ellen Wernecke, and myself—will choose a book to discuss. Four weeks later, we’ll reconvene to talk about the book in a series of posts, but not just among ourselves.

First selection: Geek Love by Katherine Dunn.

No wonder I've been getting so many online coupons from Borders

Publishers Weekly announces that bookstore sales fell 10.8% in Feb 2009.

Circulation at the Middleton Public Library was up 6%.

What Does Disney Want?

Your 6 to 14 year old son's money. (Or yours, as it were.)

Link to April 14 New York Times [print edition] article, "What Do Boys Want? She Digs Into Minds and Closets to See".

Here's all you need to know. Disney Channel’s audience is 40 percent male, but girls drive most of the related merchandising sales.

Oh, for those simpler days of yesteryear.
Link to April 14 Wausau Daily Herald article, "Board: Book OK in school".

Excerpt: The Wausau School Board voted 7-2 Monday to keep a book in the John Muir Middle School library after a parent asked that it be removed because of sexually explicit content.

Board President Dale Lawson and member Pat Keefe voted to remove the book "ttyl."

The author of "ttyl," Lauren Myracle, who has a son in fifth grade, said she understands the objections to her book. She also said the book's dialogue about sex and alcohol is frank but that the characters criticize those who engage in those behaviors.

"It's about girls who make bad decisions and learn from them," Myracle said of her book.

"That could be helpful to middle school kids or high schools kids as they navigate through life."

SEE ALSO 10/2/2008 Blogging Censorship post, "Banned Book Thursday!!"

Monday, April 13, 2009

New Cedar Rapids Library to Get 90% (Reimbursable) Federal Funding

Link to April 12 Cedar Rapids Gazette op-ed article, "After the floods, a new opportunity for C.R. library".

Excerpt: The Federal Emergency Management Agency recently ruled that the current library building sustained damage greater than 50 percent. With this determination, by FEMA regulations, replacing the building is more cost effective than repairing it. With replacement, FEMA will cover the cost for a new “like-kind” building in a 90 percent federal/10 percent state sharing ratio. Remember, though, FEMA is a reimbursement process: We expend the dollars first, then we are reimbursed. Any incremental improvements to the form, function and/or design that are made compared to the original building must be paid for locally.

And Then There's This Little Ditty

Not what I was looking for, but....

Amazon in Jell-0 Mode

Link to April 12 cnet news post, "Amazon criticized for de-ranking 'adult' books".

Amazon's initial response. In consideration of our entire customer base, we exclude "adult" material from appearing in some searches and best seller lists. Since these lists are generated using sales ranks, adult materials must also be excluded from that feature.

Once they started to feel some heat, though, a(nother?) spokesperson offered, Essentially, there's a glitch in our system and it's being fixed.

Rededication Ceremony at Onalaska Public Library

Link to April 13 LaCrosse Tribune article, "Onalaska library to celebrate completed expansion".

Excerpt: The recently completed addition and remodeling of the Onalaska Public Library will be celebrated Sunday [April 19] with a rededication ceremony highlighting eagles, authors, movies, music and more.The 20-year-old library at 741 Oak Ave. S. reopened in February after a construction project that added 7,765 square feet to the 15,000-square-foot building. Since the reopening, the large meeting room, with capacity for 120 people, was completed.

Current Exhibition at Bergstrom-Mahler Museum

Link to April 13 Appleton Post-Crescent article, "Art from children's literature takes the spotlight at Bergstrom-Mahler".

Art meets literature at the Bergstrom-Mahler Museum's current exhibition, which showcases the bold and graphic renderings of Los Angeles-based illustrator and author Gerald McDermott.

Creator of more than 25 books and films, McDermott's use of color, stylized figures and abstract motifs are said to combine ancient imagery with contemporary design. The exhibit displays his illustrations in their grandest form.

Running in conjunction with the second annual Fox Cities Book Festival, "Myth & Magic" is a touring exhibition of 54 of McDermott's works organized from a collection of the National Center for Children's Illustrated Literature. It offers a career overview of the Caldecott award-winning illustrator's work.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Better Late Than Never

Just learned about this online resource during one of my student's practicum reports on Thursday.

EarlyWord’s goal is to help Collection Development and Readers Advisory librarians stay ahead of public demand and identify hidden gems.

Road Trip Possibility

Polk Library 5th Annual Book Sale. Click on link for details.

Readers to Writers

Link to April 12 Appleton Post-Crescent article, "A fast start: Perry, Chang embraced love of reading early".

Excerpt: For Chang, an Appleton native and the daughter of Chinese immigrants, literature was the primer of American culture.

"I was a bookworm so I spent a huge amount of time reading," said Chang, 44, of Iowa City. "As a child, I read about the American Revolution in the novel 'Johnny Tremain.' I read about the Civil War in 'Little Women.' The books that influenced me the most, I suppose, because I think I read them the most often, were the Laura Ingalls Wilder 'Little House' books. What strikes me as I re-read them is how much of those books are about American history and about the settling of the West, about changes to the landscape, the confrontation of the early pioneers with the rough living of the prairie. Just really powerful stuff, all about place."

Appleton Post-Crescent Supports Universal Service Fund for Libraries

Link to April 12 editorial in the Appleton Post-Crescent, "Telephone tax needed to sustain libraries".

Excerpt: Now, Gov. Jim Doyle's proposed budget allocates $12.6 million from this fund to cover the state's primary contributions to state libraries.

This has raised the ire of some lawmakers, including Sen. Michael Ellis, R-Neenah, who call this a "hidden tax" that is dishonest.

We do understand criticism of Doyle for raiding one fund to pay for unrelated items, such as happened with the transportation fund. Such shifting is a dangerous, shortsighted method that carries high risks of backfiring down the road. But that isn't the case with the libraries.

Using the Universal Service Fund is a valid way to pay for library technology and other library services, which the public is clamoring for now more than ever. (RG's emphasis.)

At the Appleton Public Library alone, users logged 12,899 hours on public computers in the first two months of 2008, a 60 percent increase over the previous year, according to APL director Terry Dawson.

(Thanks to Terry Dawson for his tireless advocacy on this issue.)

Fox Cities Book Festival

Link to April 12 Appleton Post Crescent article, "Michael Perry among feature authors of Fox Cities Book Festival".

Excerpt: To open the second Fox Cities Book Festival on Tuesday, Perry will hold an 11 a.m. novel collection reading and discussion at the Kaukauna Public Library. It's the first of six appearances over three days in the Fox Cities.

The book festival, which runs through April 19, will connect more than 50 writers — among them Perry, Appleton native Lan Samantha Chang and British poet Simon Armitage — with readers through readings, book chats, a book fair and other events. Aside from a few ticketed events that include meals, activities are free.

Access, Accountability, Transparency

Link to April 12 Appleton Post-Crescent article, "Panel: Outdated state law muzzles access to elected officials' finances".

Excerpt: Unlike residents of most other states, Wisconsin residents do not have free access to information about the finances of their elected officials.

A government watchdog organization, however, has made it a top priority to loosen restrictions.

"It seems to us, in this electronic age, given the goal of the board to make government as transparent as possible we would like the ability to post statements online so people anywhere in the state can view an official's statement," said Jonathan Becker, administrator of the ethics division of the state Government Accountability Board.

The information is filed by about 2,100 public officials on financial disclosure forms called statements of economic interest, which are designed to ensure officials, such as judges and lawmakers, don't have conflicts of interest or are using their offices for private gain.

Wisconsin residents can see this information, but only if requesters disclose their identities. So if you request a statement filed by the governor, the governor gets an e-mail with your name, telephone number and address. If you are seeking the information for someone else you have to disclose that too.

SEE ALSO The Wisconsin Campaign Finance Database at the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign website. (Follow the money.)

Congratulations to Joan Mueller on Her Retirement

Link to April 12 Oshkosh Northwestern article, "Librarian closes the book on 35-year career".

Excerpt: Joan Mueller had no problem finding something to do when she wasn’t at her father’s paint store. She’d make a beeline next door to the Mayville public library.“If they needed me back at the paint store they’d just call the library,” said Mueller, whose love for books and libraries turned into a career that spanned nearly 36 years.

Mueller retired at the end of March after 23 years as assistant director of the Oshkosh Public Library. She spent about 12 years at the Fond du Lac Public Library before that.